The world in your hands

Today the world is connected, 24/7 and around the clock, by companies doing business instantaneously and globally. Employees work remotely, checking-in and collaborating across platforms and devices.

Almost everyone you meet owns a smartphone, capable of keeping them in touch with their entire social network with just a few taps. These incredible advances in technology, including the speed and power with which they operate, rely on processors or ‘chips’ to carry out the mind-bending array of instructions needed for you to submit your work for approval by a team spread around the world, or to share that video with your mum, of the weather reporter’s umbrella flying away.

iPhone camera

For 30 years, ARM Holdings has been designing the digital engines under the hood, of the world’s most well-known devices, from the heart of Cambridge.

The Architecture for the Digital World

ARM doesn’t actually make the chips it designs, it licenses them. As digital architects, the ARM engineers research and design the processor, and then hand over the blueprint and instructions to whoever wishes to make the physical hardware. It’s an ingenious way of working, and it’s part of the reason ARM is so universally successful.

Who uses ARM technology?

The prestigious list of companies who use technology designed right here in Cambridge is enormous, with several having used multiple generations of ARM processors for years. Here are just a few, which you might have at home right now:

  • Apple iPhone and iPad
  • Asus (in tablets)
  • Canon Powershot (in digital cameras)
  • Hyundai
  • Nintendo DS (games console)
  • Sony
  • TomTom
  • Samsung

So, how does the ARM processor work?

In order for your mobile phone or tablet to do the things you want it to, like play videos and music, send email and open Facebook, it needs to be able to make tiny, ultra-fast calculations based on your input. It then needs to interpret that input, and give you feedback in the form of images, sound, text and so on. An ARM processor, sometimes called an SoC or ‘System on Chip’ is the thing which allows your device to do those things.

The ARM processor is essentially your iPhone’s brain.

Where else might you find an ARM processor?

Wearables, such as the Fitbit, Pebble and iWatch all contain chips made with instructions from ARM.

Wearables are pieces of technology designed to be worn, either as part of your clothing, or directly on your skin, like the Fitbit. They can act as mini media devices, or they can track your heart rate during exercise, automatically sending information to your own online account, helping you to keep track of your health like never before.

The uses for one of Cambridge’s most mammoth contributions to the tech world are already incredible, and they’re only going to become more extensive and impressive.

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